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California 21, New York 10, Chris Hansen 8, Da 7, Nbc 5, Nbc News 4, Willis 4, Garcia 3, San Jose 3, New York City 3, Texas 3, Bill Hertog 2, Chung 2, Nissan Altima 2, Mcdonald 's 2, Monique Duran 2, Nick Garcia 2, Willis Willis 2, Indio 2, Queens 2,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business.  
   Investigative journalism. (CC) (Stereo)  

    September 6, 2010
    10:00 - 11:00pm PDT  

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good night, america. the lottery. we all dream of winning the jackpot. but we never dream that someone else may steal our prize. winning tickets, they could be sweeped right out from under your nose, from someone that you least expect, the lottery clerk from behind the counter. tonight, we're back with our hidden camera to show you how tickets are being scanned and winners are being scammed. again. >> so you tried to steal that ticket, right? >> and again. >> is there anything that you want people to know? >> and again. >> you see how that looks? >> yeah. >> clerks caught on camera.
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will they take the money and run? it's an all new investigation and not everyone is happy about it. >> can i show you this? >> no. >> no sth? >> how lucky can you get? good evening and welcome to "dateline." i'm chris hansen. millions of people buy lottery tickets every day. what if you buy a lottery ticket and someone else is claiming the prize. last year we showed you how clerks were taking tickets from unsuspecting customers and then claiming the prize for themselves. it was an investigation that shook up the lottery industry. tonight we make a return trip to the counter. could some clerk have your number? it's the dream of striking it rich that makes lottery big
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business in this country. >> hey, you never know. >> pay off debt. >> i haven't won yet but i still have faith. >> 42 states, the district of columbia and even puerto rico, lottery sales reach $60 billion every year. >> tour the world. it's my gig. i'm going to take care of my mom and dad. i'm going to buy them a new house. >> i would definitely take my family on a good vacation. >> and because the odds of winning big are minuscule, more than $17 billion ends up in state treasuries every year. still, you probably think if you're lucky enough to buy a winning ticket, you'll end with the cash. as we showed you last year, that's not always true. this woman handed a clerk some lottery tickets. >> i don't think these are winning tickets.
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can you check them for me, please? >> it turns out, one of the tickets is a $1,000 winner. the woman is really a california lottery investigator. when she came back to the counter -- >> all right. have a good day. >> the clerk told her all of her tickets were losers and kept the $1,000 winner for himself. we saw it again and again. our report sounded alarms in the lottery industry. >> we have "dateline" here. >> we followed undercover california lottery investigators as they tested the honesty of clerks like that guy who took the $1,000 ticket for himself. >> now, you see, the reason why i know you're lying, is because we can tell that you scanned that ticket. >> and there was this clerk at a liquor store. >> you told the woman that she was not a winner but that ticket was a $1,000 winner. >> and this woman who stole a
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$1,000 ticket and gave it to her daughter to cash. >> what did you tell your daughter about the ticket? >> i said some customer left it. >> some customer left it in. >> yeah. >> we watched as the lottery clerks were taken off to jail. but you may think that stealing lotto tickets is not that serious of a crime. bob may not agree. a few years ago he didn't realize he was holding a $530,000 winning lottery ticket. he relied on a california clerk to check if he was a winner. that's when he was told -- >> it was $4. >> the clerk kept the winning ticket for himself and handed bob another ticket. the clerk was arrested and sent to prison and he won a lesson. >> i didn't pay attention. i trusted him. >> our report was a wake-up call for the lottery industry around the country. some officials told us they would intensify efforts to make sure their clerks were honest.
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but it's still happening. meet willis willis of grand prairie texas. he plays the lottery at the same store every week. one day last spring he handed his teickets behind the counter >> i asked the guy to check my ticket if it was a winner or not. >> the clerk was a 25-year-old college student. >> he came back and said, you have a $2 winner. >> but it turns out willis had won a little more than 2 bucks. he had really won a million. his ticket, according to the local d.a., was stolen by the clerk. she presented the case to the grand jury. >> and they made a determination that the man commented the offense of claiming the lottery prize by fraud. >> it's hard to know exactly how often this happens. what we do know is all over the country lottery retailers are turning up as some of the biggest winners around. in new york, a lottery retailer
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has cashed 120 winning tickets for more than $500,000. and in florida there are seven lottery retailers among the frequent winners. including one that has tickets worth $600,000. what's going on? bill spent four years as the chief investigator for the california lottery. he says if a person who sells lottery tickets is winning big, there are just a few explanations. >> plays a lot, wins a lot, or somehow scammed it. and until you analyze it, until you con frofront it, i don't kn >> you don't know. >> the ticket is in the back pocket. >> we followed his team last year as they conducted undercover operations to ferret out undercover lottery tickets. >> we're keeping track of what they are doing and we seek to get them.
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>> now he's invited us back as he and his team continue to make sure lottery clerks are giving the rightful winners the right news. and when they don't, we'll be giving them the bad news. >> chris hansen with "dateline" nbc news. >> my goodness. are you serious. >> coming up, the scratch-off ticket that's a $1,000 winner. but the clerk's reaction has investigators scratching their heads. when "how lucky can you get" continues. ♪ da da-da, da, da, da-da ♪ da-da, da, da, da ♪ da, da, da-da-da, da, da-da-da, da, da-da ♪ [ female announcer ] there's a place called hidden valley where kids not only eat their vegetables, they can't get enough. ♪ hidden valley ranch. makes vegetables delectable. discover four more ways to make vegetables delectable with farmhouse originals from hidden valley.
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it's beautiful out, huh? a woman is about to hand this woman a lottery ticket. she pretends she doesn't know how to play the lottery. when she comes back to the
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counter, will the clerk tell her that the ticket is a winner? >> did i win anything in. >> no. >> the woman is really an investigator for the california lottery. she's part of a sting operation that is just another day's work for the lottery's chief investigator bill hertog and his team. >> we're back on the road with them as they go after dishonest lottery retailers. here's how it works. an investigator posing as a customer tries to redeem a ticket. there are two types of gains. >> and next is number 47. >> first there are the online games, like powerball all online because it's run via the lottery's computer. but for this investigation, the california lottery will be using so-called scratch-off tickets. the undercover investigator uses video as he walks into this
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store in palm desert. he asks the clerk to check his ticket, just like thousands of lottery players do every day. remember, one of those tickets is a winner, especially made for this investigation. when the clerk scans a ticket t. shows up as a winner or loser immediately. the clerk even gets a hard copy so there's no doubt. in this case, the retailer does the right thing and tells the undercover investigator he's a big winner. >> you won 25 grand. >> you're kidding? >> no, i'm not. i can't do anything for you here. >> you just did. >> the clerk goes on to explain how to properly claim the ticket. in fact, most of the time clerks do it all by the book. but not always. watch what happens when a female investigator brings a $1,000 winning ticket to this clerk at
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a bowling alley in san jose. >> am i a winner? >> no. >> he seems to imply that she didn't scratch off her numbers correct lie. >> next time, if you can scratch off the numbers. >> i hardly ever play. >> have a good day. thank you. >> bill is outside monitoring his investigator. >> so that will be a rip. >> a rip or rip off. the investigator brings in another $1,000 winner for the clerk to check. >> would you mind checking this for me. i don't think they are winners. >> she already has the tickets on the counter. she's distracted. >> but does the clerk tell her that she's a winner? >> no. >> i'm sure not lucky. thank you very much. have a good day. >> so it was a rip? >> it was a rip. >> and at this market -- >> do i have any winners?
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>> no. >> has anyone ever won on this thing? i've never won. thank you very much. >> bye. >> bye-bye. >> now the team moves to riverside county. the investigator has just handed the clerk a ticket that will scan as a $25,000 winner. the clerk scans the ticket, tells the investigator it isn't a winner and appears to throw it away. $25,000 in the garbage. this liquor store in the town of indio has its own surveillance cameras. the clerk wearing the striped shirt does tell the undercover investigator that one of the tickets is a winner to the tune of $100. >> $100? >> $100 you win. >> wow. not bad for a birthday present, huh? >> just one problem. that ticket was actually a $10,000 winner. the clerk just shaved off
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$9,900. he's happy to pay out 100 bucks. >> i may have to start playing this again. >> maybe the clerk just misread the ticket. but watch what happens. he studies the ticket carefully and even show it is to his co-worker. and they seem excited. he kisses the ticket. it's time to find out if this clerk and all of the other clerks really have reason to celebrate. lottery investigators now must simply wait. wait to see if the tickets are actually cashed in. and, if so, who does the cashing. >> you saw that it was a $1,000 winner, yet you told the winner it wasn't. coming up, a strike at the bowling alley. this surprised clerk is sporting a new set of cuffs when "dateline" continues. with capital one's venture card,
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we're back on the road with california lottery investigators, and we're about to confront some of the clerks caught on the lottery hidden cameras allegedly stealing winning tickets. our first stop is that bowling alley in san jose where three months earlier an undercover investigator presented what should have been a winning ticket. but that's not what the clerk told her. >> it looks like one of the employees at the bowling alley, nick garcia, told the investigator none of them were winners when, in fact, one of those was the $1,000 decoy winners. but just two days later it was a woman named monique duran who mailed in a claim for the $1,000. she later told the lottery she found the ticket on the ground outside the bowling alley. investigators have already confronted the lottery clerk, nick garcia, when we arrive.
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>> i'm chris hansen. garcia appears taken aback. >> i love your show. i'm a fan. >> garcia admits he stole the ticket but says he's never done this before. >> let me show you one thing that i think you're going to want to see. >> i already confess to everything. there's nothing you can show me. i know. >> so she comes in -- >> no. i know. i've seen this already. >> did you knee it was a winner? >> no, i didn't. >> but, remember, it wasn't nick that tried to cash the ticket. it was that woman named monique. >> now, who is monique duran? >> that's my girlfriend. >> later he pleads no contest to three felonies, grand theft, sentenced to 45 days in jail, three years probation, and fines. in consideration for garcia pleading to all of the charges against him, the case against his girlfriend is dismissed.
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our next stop is moreno, which is in san jose, california. three months before he was behind the counter. he told an undercover investigator all of her tickets were losers. but the very next day the daughter-in-law mailed in a claim with a $1,000 ticket. >> chris hansen with "dateline" nbc. >> we want to ask him some questions. >> can you tell us what happened? >> it appears a $1,000 winning picket was brought in here. he tells me he really did think the $1,000 ticket was a loser and threw it away. >> did you put it in the garbage? >> yes, sir. >> he says that he his son found it in the garbage and then gave it to his wife.
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what he doesn't realize is that his son said he found it on the gum ball machine outside the store. of course, neither story is true. i showed him the videotape of the undercover's visit to the store. according to lottery records, that ticket was scanned only once when the investigator asked him to check it. >> the lottery knows that you scanned those tickets and one of them came up a $1,000 winner. they know that because it registers on the m computer. they know that you registered it, you knew it was a $1,000 winner, and yet you told the woman it wasn't. that's a lie, correct? >> uh-huh. >> so you tried to steal that ticket? right? why would you do that? >> i needed the money. >> you needed the money? >> yes, sir.
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>> lottery officials terminate their contract and will no longer be able to sell their tickets. retailers sell 5% of their ticket sales. that money can be the life blood of small businesses, like this one. he and his son are both arrested and charged with felony, sentenced to 45 days in jail. >> we're now just outside of the bottle shop in santa clara, california. the son kept the ticket and ultimately it was submitted to be claimed by his wife. >> chung has already told investigators that it was his wife ticket trying to protect himself and then i show him the tape of him stealing the ticket from the undercover investigator. >> a woman comes in. that's you, right? >> i wonder if you can check them for you.
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>> either of them win anything? >> no. >> have a good day. thank you. >> is there anything you want people to know about what we saw in this videotape or what you did with that ticket? >> so dumb. >> what? >> so dumb. >> was it worth $1,000? >> no. >> chung tells me that his wife didn't know anything about the winning ticket. that he signed her name on the line and sent it in. their contract to sell lottery tickets is terminated on the spot. he and his wife are arrested and later he pleaded guilty to three felony counts, grand theft, stolen property and perjury. sentenced to 45 days in jail, three years probation and fined. in krs of her husband's plea to all counts, charges against mrs.
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chung was dropped. >> our next stop is guru's food and liquor in san jose, california. we showed the tape to the hidden clerk who took the $1,000 ticket. >> has anyone ever won of those? i've never won. all right. thank you very much. bye-bye. >> okay. so you told her that none of them were winners. >> yes. >> but one was a winner. >> no, i didn't see a winner. >> he says at first he didn't realize the ticket was a winner. by the time he did, the woman had left the store. >> so i don't want to -- honor. i tell them everything. >> he says he gave the ticket to the owner of the store and told him about the mistake. >> chris hansen with "dateline" nbc. how are you? >> good. >> and it was that owner who actually tried to cash the ticket. >> you end with a ticket and you try to claim it?
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>> i did. >> you see how that looks? >> bad. very bad. bad on me. >> yeah. >> and it could get very bad for sam. he owns seven stores that sells lottery tickets and could lose the contract that sells all of those tickets. he's been a lottery dealer for 15 years but tells me this is the first time that he's ever claimed a winning ticket. >> you've never claimed a winner? >> never. >> why did you win this? >> god or something. >> we're not talking about god. you claimed the ticket. you know how the system works. >> yes, i did. >> later he and his clerk plead guilty, the clerk to possession of stolen property and him to misdemeanor of grand theft. he won't be selling any more lottery tickets. the contracts at all of the stores have been terminated. lottery investigators continue
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making the rounds at locations where winning tickets were submitted. remember that $25,000 scratch-off thrown in the trash? did it ever make it into anybody's pocket? we're about to find out. coming up -- >> from trash to treasurer. the magic traveling ticket wn "how lucky can you get" continues. this droid has evolved to do even more. now it integrates your work e-mail, so you can be hooked up to everything you need to do. now it does 1 ghz speed on a more intuitive keyboard. turning you into an instrument of efficiency. introducing the new droid 2 by motorola. part of the next generation of does. but look below the surface. your mouth is no different. just brushing leaves germs behind. adding listerine® antiseptic cleans deeper. [ boom! ]
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california lottery investigators are back in the desert and they used winning tickets to test their retailers. >> we're heading to a place called smoke and beyond and california lottery investigator presented a decoy ticket that showed up as a $25,000 winner. >> the owner of the store, mike, threw that $25,000 ticket in the trash. but miraculously the ticket was
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rescued from the garbage heap and they received a ticket mailed in by mike. i wanted to ask mike how that could have happened. >> hey, mike, chris hansen with "dateline" nbc. we're doing a story on lottery retailer who is have accepted and scanned winning tickets but told people they were losers. >> i can't talk to you. >> can i just show you something on tape, snow. >> no. >> mike, i think you're going to want to see this. >> no, i'm sorry. >> he gets his lawyer on the phone and our interview is over. >> please leave. >> so you don't want to see this video? >> no, i don't want to see this video? >> no. >> the video that shows you with a 25,000 -- >> the lottery investigators move in and question him. later, chief investigator bill hertog fills us in on their conversation. >> after a little bit he said
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i'm a good person a. family man, i want to take responsibility and i stole the ticket. >> he stole the ticket? >> he stole the ticket. >> he said that he held on to the ticket for ten days and then gave it to a friend to cash for him. because is he the owner of this store, the lottery confiscates all of its equipment and tickets and immediately terminates its contract. later he pleaded guilty to a felony and attempted grabbed theft and sentenced to 90 days in jail probation and fines. >> the next stop is in indio, california, where investigators went in with a $10,000 winning ticket, presented it to the clerk, and he says, you won. he counted out $100 and stole the $10,000 ticket. the interesting thing about this ticket is it's all very well recorded on the store's own security cameras. >> how are you? >> fine. how are you doing? >> fine.
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chris hansen with "dateline" nbc. how are are you? there was an incident where a guy came in and gave you a $10,000 winning ticket and you only give him $100. can you tell me what happened there? >> when -- i have no idea about anything that is going on. >> right. >> he seems a bit confused. so i show him the tape of the undercover investigator's visit three months earlier. he sees himself checking the three tickets and paying out $100 on a ticket that was really worth 10,000. >> all right. what do you want to know? >> i want to know why you stole the ticket? >> i did not mean to steal it. >> did you not mean to steal it? >> no. >> but you remember the store surveillance tape? how he showed the ticket to his colleague, how happy he seemed at his good fortune. >> you look excited there.
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>> he says it was all a big misunderstanding, that he really did get confused and mistaked the ticket for one worth $100. but if that's true, why would his be handing him a claim form? he claims he waited two days to see if the person who owned the ticket would come back and then figured finders keepers. >> because we're human beings, you know. when i see this, it's really $10,000, nobody asked for two days about the ticket, i think, okay, why not give the ticket to myself. >> you thought why not keep the ticket for yourself? >> for myself. >> and that's when he says he gave the ticket to a co-worker to cash for him because he didn't have a valid i.d. card at the time. he says he told hits co-worker he had bought the ticket himself. >> you lied to him? >> yes. >> meaning you had plenty of opportunity to call the lottery
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people and say, hey, look, there was a mistake made. >> no, i didn't steal the ticket. >> was it yours? did you buy it in. >> no, i not buy it. >> now, he finally admits he did something wrong. >> what do you think should happen to you because of this? >> i don't know. i don't know. i know i -- maybe something happen to me and i'm ready for anything. >> he is arrested and held in jail until his trial in february. >> people's exhibit 4. >> he was found guilty of felony attempted grand theft and perjury. he remains in jail and could be deported. our experience with california lottery investigators was making a sharp point. if you're dishonest, the state's investigators will find you. bill retired last summer but the california lottery investigators are still at it. to date they've checked more
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than 600 stores and found that clerks mishandled the winning ticket more than 70 times. but a funny thing happened clear across the lottery. we wanted to see if any of their clerks are dishonest. the new york lottery said they don't do stings like california but wait until you see what happened when we tried to conduct our own tests of lottery clerks. warning, nbc news is trying to trick lottery retailers. huh? we're doing what? "dateline's" own investigation in new york, will some of our lottery ticket winners end up losers? >> can you check a lotto ticket for me? >> someone makes us a surprising offer. when "dateline" continues. a better place? how l field trips to the zoo! more basketballs. soccer balls. and a museum! [ growls ]
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while california as more than willing to check its lottery tickets to make sure they are honest, across the country in new york, lottery officials were not willing to tell us what they do to make sure winners always get their cash. so we thought we'd try to find out on our own. just like the california lottery investigators did. would the clerk always be honest? but the new york lottery got wind of it and something interesting happened. it sent out this alert to every lottery vendor in the new york city area. it said, warning, nbc news is trying to trick lottery
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retailers into stealing winning lottery tickets. we thought that was odd. so we decided to press on. new york's lottery is the biggest in the country, selling some $7 billion every year. so we're heading out into the streets of the city with our winning tickets and our hidden cameras to see what will happen. >> okay. i'm walking in. >> our first stop is in brooklyn. we sent in an undercover player, in this case, a "dateline" producer, with a lottery ticket that we know is a $500 winner. >> can you check a lotto ticket for me? i don't know if any of these are winners but if you could take a look. i'm going to grab some chips. >> so goes off to grab something inside the store. outside we're listening in on the cell phone. the clerk prints out the ticket.
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>> oh. [ bleep ] >> what? >> you hit $500. >> this clerk does the right thing and tells her that she's a winner. he says that she needs to mail in her claim. he also correctly identify as $5 winning ticket she gave him. he's honest, as are most of the clerks that we visit in new york city. >> i won $500? >> yes. >> these guys do the right thing. >> do you mind checking these for me? >> in new york, that isn't always the case. >> any luck? >> no. >> no? >> this clerk says the tickets are not winners and gives them back to our player. >> the same thing happens at this one and this one.
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are they mistaken or just too lace zee to check the numbers on the tickets? at this store in queens, the clerk says the $500 winner is a loser. >> what about this? >> nothing. >> all empty? >> no. >> even that old, old one? >> yes. old one, nothing. >> but unlike the others, he keeps the tickets and says that he's throwing them in the garbage. we think the clerk might have stolen our ticket. as i talked to him, it turns out he throw it is in the trash. >> not showing anything and so i put it in the garbage. >> and he said he never really checked on the ticket and never printed out the winning number. >> that was my mistake. >> in at least eight cases, our undercover producer went into the store with the winning $500 ticket only to have the clerk say it wasn't a winner.
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but it wasn't in an effort to steal the ticket. it was because the clerk either improperly checked the numbers or just didn't want to bother doing it. so that means if you had a winning $500 ticket and went into one of those stores, you lose. >> at this store in queens, everything seems to be going well. >> i won? >> you won. >> how much did i win? >> $500. >> they correctly tell her she has to take the ticket to a lottery office in manhattan to get the money. but then, out of the blue, the clerk warns our shopper that if she happens to owe money to the government, collecting her winnings may not be so easy. >> if you owe anything to the government, you cannot -- they are going to take the money. >> really? >> yeah. they take the money. >> for instance, what if she hadn't paid some parking tickets? >> will the government take that out? >> yes, they take the money. they take the money. >> i may have some parking
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tickets. >> and then the clerk makes an interesting offer. he'll go to the lottery office and cash the ticket for her. >> you'll get the money? >> i'll get the money. i'm clean. >> clean meaning that he doesn't owe the government any money so he'd be able to get all of her winnings. of course, this service isn't free and this isn't the first time he's made such an arrangement. >> i can send somebody else and somebody else bring the -- >> what's he's doing is called discounting and that's illegal. the lottery could deduct money if the winner owes child support or if they've been collecting welfare. now it's time to talk to the clerk. >> tell me what happened.
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>> i got your ticket over here. >> so what were you going to do with that ticket? >> she says she can't go. >> she can't go? >> that's what she says. >> but it sounds like you're being very careful because you're familiar with the rules and the law. >> i don't talk to her like that. >> i heard the whole conversation. >> well, and i say -- >> the clerk keeps saying he doesn't know that he may be breaking the law. we take our tickets and get back on the road. so far, no one has actually stolen our ticket. but will that last? and new york's lottery chief isn't happy when we tell him about our investigation. >> can i show you a video? >> no. i really have to run. >> but he does have a lot to say. >> we just don't need, you know, your show to help us do your job. >> and so does this clerk. >> why did you go ha?
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we're still out on the streets of new york city checking the honesty of lottery clerks. >> this ticket has covered a lot of ground. as you can see, it's got some tears and we've had to patch it up with scotch tape. but we've learned a lot from it. >> now they are taking our ticket into the smoke shop in this village. the clerk seems friendly and willing to help. >> hello, can you check the lotto ticket for me? t >> the clerk identifies our smaller number and then the clerk checks the winning numbers
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against what we know is a $500 ticket and boy does he get excited when he spots the numbers. >> you won. >> oh! >> but, hold on. wait a minute. he seems to calm himself down. >> 173. >> okay. >> so it's nothing. you just missed. >> oh, i missed it? >> yeah. >> i didn't win? >> hu-huh. >> are you sure? >> yeah. >> the clerk crumples up the ticket but doesn't throw it away and puts it behind the counter. our undercover player comes outside to our car. >> you think he saw the winning numbers? >> yeah. you guys heard him sha reek? >> yeah. >> there is he, standing in front of the counter and he's studying our ticket. >> chris hansen with nbc. do you recognize this young
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woman over here. she was just in here with lottery tickets and she presented you with three lottery tickets? >> yes, she gave me three lottery tickets. >> the clerk denies even checking the numbers. >> did you give it to her? >> no. >> but, of course, on the tape we plainly see him checking the ticket himself. >> you kept this ticket. why? >> i didn't keep this ticket. >> you did. >> we have everything up there. >> we recorded the whole thing. and we show him the part where he seems so excited. >> you won. >> oh. >> what? >> you initially say ha. >> why did you say ha? >> this store has a lot of -- you say ha a lot of time. >> this is nothing. >> you crumple the ticket up and take it behind the counter.
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you put it behind the counter. >> my friend, they put it up there and -- >> later on you throw it over there when you see us coming in with our cameras. >> the owner of this store declines to be interviewed and insists that his clerk did nothing wrong but also says that the clerk has been fired. >> i just said ha. >> by the end of our investigation in new york city, we visit 45 stores and almost half were never told by the clerk our $500 ticket is a winner. again, those could just have been mistakes. but at that smoke shop it appears that the clerk knew it was a winner and kept it. >> thank you. >> we wanted to speak to the new york lottery about our investigation. the lottery declined our request for an interview. but at a national convention of lottery directors -- >> how are you?
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>> we caught up with gordon, the director of the new york lottery. >> i was wondering if i could steal some time of yours. >> not right now. >> no? >> no. >> we wanted to show him what happened at that village. >> i really have to run. i'm sorry. >> you don't want to see the video? >> what is it going to be? >> i told him about that clerk that kept our $500 ticket. >> we investigate these things constantly. we just had someone arrested last week. two people , in fact, arrested. last year we had 228 complaints. we're very active in this all the time. we just don't need your show to help us do our job. >> don't you think it would be good to show people in new york what you're doing to protect the integrity of the lottery? >> it's more important that we protect the integrity of the lottery system and, most importantly, protect our
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players. we are interested in protecting our players, not creating a reality tv show. >> it's not journalism, that's for sure. >> and it's not just our investigation that he doesn't like. he believes stings like those done by the california investigators are unfair. >> do have you a problem with what california does? >> i think the way the stings were done are unrealistic and not force the retailers but created a situation where people get tempted too easily. it's more liken trapment than a sting. and that was our objection to it, that it was an entrapment. >> is that why the lottery issued that warning? >> why is it that you told lottery retailers that we were trying to trick them? >> well, it's obviously your interest to get somebody to commit a crime on television. >> we're merely -- >> and to keep people from committing crimes and that is why we wanted to warn them, be
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careful. >> what's the most important thing that you want the people in new york to know about the -- >> that we investigate, we have a good team. we do this all the time. we're hard on our retailers when they do something against the law and we use legal investigative techniques and cooperate with law enforcement authorities and not reality tv shows to get this done. >> remember, when we presented this ticket to lottery retailers to tell us if it was a winner, we were doing exactly what willis willis did in texas when he presented his $1 million ticket and had it stolen. so what happened to willis? even though the texas lottery provided evidence leading to the indictment of that lottery clerk, the lottery said the money belongs to the clerk. that baffled willis' lawyer. >> i guess according to the texas lottery today, le go into the winner's hall of fame right
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along with bonnie and clyde. >> but the lottery was eventually overruled and he was awarded the money frozen in the clerk's bank account. that clerk, who is still a fugitive, may have taken up to $300,000 out of the country. prosecutors are trying to get that money back as well. willis is still out a lot of cash. but what he's got is enough to pay off medical bills and his children's education. so what can you do to make sure that if you have a winning lottery ticket you get your money? you can start by checking your own tickets at an automatic scanner like this one. or just go online to check the winners and the rules. and there's something else. joan is the director of the california lottery. >> and the most important thing that the consumer can do when they get are their ticket is sign it. even before they play it, sign the ticket.
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>> and one more thing. since you're about 200 more times to be struck by lightning than to win one of those huge jack pots, you might also consider putting your money in a savings account. at least three states have done undercover investigations similar to the one we observed in california. minnesota, iowa, and most recently, ohio. a few other states have investigations in the planning stages. you can learn more about our new york investigation on our website at date line daut msnbc.com. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for joining us. next, the landfill isn't the for a victim of a killing ing